Unwin revels in UCI Cycling World Championships glory (Image: REUTERS) The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is quite a different environment to where Sophie Unwin found herself six years ago.
Small mammals, reptiles, insects and birds were who she spent her days with working at Longleat Safari Park and the Devon-born Paralympian and world champion had never even heard of Para-cycling.
The 29-year-old was roared home alongside pilot and Scot Jenny Holl in front of a Glaswegian crowd at the UCI World Championships this month, the largest event in the sport’s history, combining 13 cycling disciplines across 10 days.
Unwin and Holl claimed three golds on the track, and a silver and bronze on the road, and they maintained that hosting para-cycling with able-bodied disciplines made all the difference.
“In 2017, I hadn’t heard of para-cycling,” Unwin said. “I don’t think I’d have known what a tandem was. I was still working in a zoo and had no intention of becoming an athlete, I didn’t know any of that was out there.
“If someone had said that I’d be a world champion, I’d have said, ‘first of all, what’s a velodrome? What’s a tandem? What are you talking about?’
“For us I think the experience was great being mixed in with the able-bodied Worlds as well, especially on the track.“It was really nice because a lot of the able-bodied athletes haven’t had a lot of exposure to Para racing and we’ve had a lot of feedback saying this is amazing and we’ve never really watched […]